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Learning From Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form Paperback – Jun 15 1977
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...a brilliant document of the times...a work which uses history knowledgeably, skillfully, and creatively: a rarity.(Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians)
...professionally informed, competitively astute, and perversely brilliant...(The Yale Review)
...these studies are brilliant...the kind of art history and theory that is rarely produced.(Ada Louis Huxtable The New York Times)
From the Back Cover
Learning From Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of 'common' people and less immodest in their erections of 'heroic, ' self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, on the Las Vegas Strip, and Part II, ' Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed, ' a generalization from the finding of the first part on symbolism in architecture and the iconography of urban sprawl.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Venturi should open the eyes of readers who self rightiously condemn today's highway commercial architecture and signage. Venturi challenges us to look at this urbanscape with fresh eyes...to see and understand the order (both functional and visual) in what we have been conditioned to condemn.
The book is well illustrated and gives examples of "the duck" and the "decorated shed" as metaphorical strategies to attract attention to highway commericial buildings.Anyone interested in architecture history and contemporary planning issues should read this book. It may piss you off, but it might also open your eyes to new ways of seeing.
In 1999 it would be interesting to compare Las Vegas to Pleasantville...and to learn in the process about change and the American culture that seems to embrace an ever changing urban landscape. Just as in the mythical Pleasantville in the movie of same name, Venturi upsets the status quo and gets us to see the colors (though sometimes messy and glaring) of the REAL city.
My biggest issue with this book is not with the content, but the execution. The illustrations are far too small, and often placed many pages away from the actual text which references the illustrations. While I understand the publisher is trying to produce a paperback which is affordable, I believe they have taken too many shortcuts, resulting in a book which is difficult to read.
This book follows Venturi's "Complexity and Contradiction", where you can learn how cynically to use casement windows in housing for the elderly where the elderly will happily put their plastic flowers in the windows, but *you* secretly know these are not really hormal casement windows, since they are out of scale (like fascist architecture's lack of scale?).
This book will tell you about ducks and decorated sheds, but it will tell you nothing about building spaces which nourish creative human community. Try Louis Kahn (e.g., John Lobell's lovely little book "Between Silence and Light"). My postmodernist teachers at Harvard said Kahn's writings were incomprehensible, which says more about them than about him.
Read Lobell's book and learn why, e.g., a city might deserve to exist. Remember: Only *you* can get beyond postmodernism!
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